As Tropical Storm Isaac draws near, officials in Dominica say they are going to be very strict on rules pertaining to hurricane shelters because of lessons learnt from Hurricane Maria last year.
“Of course there are always lessons learnt from past experiences and of course there were lessons learnt from Maria, and I want to inform the general public that we are going to be very strict on shelter rules,” Glenroy Toussaint from the Emergency Shelter Committee said at a press briefing.
Toussaint continued, “We have developed shelter rules and we are going to put up those rules at strategic locations in each of the shelters so people understand clearly that they have to confine to those rules that govern the shelters.”
According to him, officials from the committee are concerned about some events that took place during Maria and Post-Maria which they don’t want to be repeated.
Toussaint called on the general public to adhere to the rules when coming to the shelters.
He said those who need shelter should move to the emergency one as soon as possible and not wait until matters are getting out of hand.
“One of the things that we’ve experienced is that people tend to move to the shelters when the event, when the activity, when things begin to happen and that creates a tremendous chaos in the shelters,” Toussaint remarked. “Persons need to know where their shelters are, it is important to know where your shelters are.”
Toussaint also encouraged those who require shelter, to come with some water, dry foods, canned food that would last for at least 24 to 48 hours, “because when you come to the shelters, these supplies are not available.”.
Toussaint explained that after Hurricane Maria, a neighbourhood approach was developed by encouraging persons whose homes are safe to use them as shelters.
“We are mindful of the fact that people are able to come forward and assist us in that regard,” he stated. “A number of private homeowners have agreed for their homes to be used as shelters.”
He stated further that officials are going to move the people who require shelter in Mero to the John Kelleb Laurent Primary School in St Joseph as well as the Isaiah Thomas Secondary School.
“Mechanisms have been put in place for the transportation of those individuals…,” he revealed. “We continue to encourage persons to help each other, so as soon as we receive instructions that shelters be opened we will, in fact, open all the shelters.”
Meantime; Toussaint encourages every family and individual who enter the shelter to register, “because we have to give an account of persons who enter the shelters.”
“We are going to register each and every person and we would like the general public to cooperate when certain questions are asked of you, so that you supply that information so that we can have an accurate account of persons who are in shelters,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Reginald Austrie has offered his home located in Morne-a-Louis in the north to be used as a Hurricane center.
“I want to at this time pledge that my house can be used as a hurricane shelter if and when it becomes necessary. That’s my house in Morne a Louis,” Mr. Austrie said. “It was used during Maria and it is again available for use…”
He continued, “We’re still undergoing some repairs, we have no lights yet but, we have a solid roof, a concrete roof over your head and we have water. So I want to say to the shelter officials and the disaster preparedness committee that my home in Morne a Louise can, in fact, be used as a hurricane shelter if and when that becomes necessary.”
He said the list of 99 emergency shelters will soon be published.